What you can do
Mikey Barnes

Mikey Barnes

I’m a queer, transgender poet. I first came out at school at the age of 12 and it wasn’t always easy – a lot of students bullied me for it, and even the few teachers I opened up to told me that I was “too young” to know for sure. I struggled with my mental health for a long time as a result, and I turned to poetry as a way to express everything I was feeling.

Upon starting sixth form, I decided I wanted to make a real change with regards to how my school deals with LGBT+ students and issues of transphobia and homophobia. I set up my own LGBT group to discuss issues that affect the community, and to provide a safe space for all the students who come along.

My school got on board with it completely: they bought us LGBT Young Adult fiction books for the school library; allowed us to fundraise and present assemblies for World AIDS Day; and are on track to becoming a Stonewall School Champion. I’m so pleased to be a part of changing my school for the better, so that no other students are discriminated against for being who they are.

My school encouraged me to submit a poem about the reclamation of traditionally homophobic slurs to the Stonewall Young Writers’ Competition – and to my complete surprise I ended up winning the poetry category! Going to London and meeting so many different people who work for and support Stonewall was completely eye-opening, and I now hope to become involved in more of Stonewall’s campaigning and fundraising towards equality for everyone.

Mikey Barnes, 17 years old from Leeds